What’s Happening in the Garden- January 18, 2021

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What’s Happening in the Garden- May 13, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms who may be reading! One of the many luxuries I allowed myself this weekend was taking the time to snap some quick photos for a blog post.  These were taken yesterday before the inch or so of rain that we were hit with today.

Spring has finally sprung here in Salem, Massachusetts!

Since we’ve had a lot of rain everything is lush and green… a very different scenario from last year when we were in a severe drought all. season. long.

IMG_2827Michael welcomed spring last weekend by replacing four of our five raised beds. They’re sturdy and should serve us well for five years or so.

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I haven’t had time to do much seed starting this spring so I’ll direct sow some things and I purchased spring seedlings a few weeks ago. I saw these celery plants and decided to give them a try. We had a cold snap about ten (?) days ago and they suffered a little but they seem to be greening up again.

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I also purchased  Brussel sprouts which were quickly chomped on by someone, a bunny or deer? Yes, we have deer in our yard here in the city of Salem. They’re beautiful creatures but not so good for the garden.

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The sweet peas grew quickly from seed and the spinach is quite happy. They all just push those rocks to the side, don’t they?

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My little row of Swiss chard is also being “tasted.”  I think those are bunny tooth prints.

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The lettuce is starting to sprout. It needs some vermi-compost and rock removal, stat.

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And then there’s the kale, always easy, always happy… you can’t go wrong with kale.

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I did go wrong with this passion flower that I plunked in late last fall. I bought it on sale and I can’t find the receipt or container or I’d take it back.

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On the brighter side, the liatris that I planted last fall are starting to bloom.

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I scattered them in front of the garden fence. I may move more mid spring blooms into that bed to keep them company next year.

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Our apple trees are full of blooms too. We may have a real apple crop this year! We bought some organic horticultural oil to spray on the trees to keep the pests away and it helped them get off to a good start. We’ll repeat it after the flowers start to turn to fruit.

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I believe that this is the first time I’ve photographed an apple blossom. 🙂

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Our horseradish is prolific and about to bloom.  I think it’s funny that these flowers will surely smell like horseradish.

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In the beds closer to the house the bleeding heart are beautiful.

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The lovage came back beautifully and I replaced some thyme with fresh new plants.

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Soloman’s seal, iris and lamium are thriving in a part sun/ shade area.

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And I’ve got a few tomato plants that are ready to go out in a week or two. I started these sweetie tomato plants at work with the participants in my program and brought some extras home when we thinned them out. They’re a bit crowded in their pots, but I think they’ll be okay for a little while longer. I’ve been watering them from the bottom in hopes of forming strong roots systems. I’ll keep you posted…

We got new chicks this  year so I made my first video!  You’ll hear me taking about them toward the end. I’d like to do more of this and work on making it a little zippier, but it’s a start!

 

I hope that all is well in your garden, wherever you are.  Thanks for stopping by and don’t be afraid to leave me a comment and say hi if you’d like to!

Love to you all,

Michele

 

What’s Happening in the Garden- June 2, 2016

Good morning! Happy June! We’ve made it past Memorial Day weekend and here I am AGAIN apologizing for my inability of publish anything at all here on The Salem Garden. I think about and write posts in my head all. the. time. and yet I just can’t get the hour or two needed to sit down and publish something constructive.

I think it has a lot to do with the five kids, husband, multiple animals, garden in spring and the still newish part-time job. About the job, it’s really quite good.  The work is physically hard and very good for me mentally. I love the plants, the task of finding spaces and figuring out where to put things and getting paid to work out for four or five hours, four days a week. Lord knows I wouldn’t do it any other way. My co-workers are great and I  enjoy the customers. It’s fun to listen to shoppers interact with each other and ask questions. I believe that if I blogged about the questions I’d probably have an award winning garden blog here.

I just need more time!

Here at home lots has been happening in our garden. We’ve had nice weather. It’s been warm enough, yet kind of cool. Things were getting pretty dry, but we’ve had several good rains in the last few weeks.

IMG_1492I’m very happy to report that I got the deck decorated nice and early this year so it’s already heaven on earth. I love to sit here when I have a few minutes.

IMG_1493My little fish Pepper loves the deck too because that’s where his summer house is (he spends the winters on my kitchen counter).  I put this barrel together with plants from a great nursery that specializes in ponds. If you’re a local water gardener, be sure to visit Country Gardens in Ipswich. They have everything you could ever need and it’s a fun place to look around.

IMG_1503The herb garden is filling in nicely. It looks like the foxglove that I planted last year is going to flower!

IMG_1506Iris are in bloom! I love iris.

IMG_1516Down in the kitchen garden we’re in the fence business this year because we’re sharing our space with a family of bunnies. Bunnies munch a lot.

IMG_1509In fact they munched the beejeebees out of the peas that I planted in March. Here are two of the five or six that survived. I’ve noticed that in the few days since the gates went up they’ve started to grow again. I’m not sure that we’ll have enough peas to serve a bowl on the Fourth of July, but there may some for a salad or two.

IMG_1507I planted all of my tomato plants (about 40 altogether) even though they were neglected and got kind of leggy. This is what happens when you don’t move your seedlings to a larger pot. I knew that, but repotting them just didn’t  happen. I’m going to stake these asap and hope for the best.

IMG_1510I had to share a picture of this horseradish because I think it’s going to take over the world. If you want horseradish, just let me know and I’ll dig some up for you in the fall.

IMG_1511The lettuce is finally edible, thanks to the bunny gates.

IMG_1513The swiss chard (on the right) wintered over and is picking up again. I need to learn to incorporate it into summer recipes better. The spinach (on the left) is starting to grow, but I’m worried that it’s going to bolt as soon as it gets hot.

IMG_1512Our garlic looks quite happy. It may be a big year for garlic around here.

IMG_1514Not so much for the asparagus… I should plant some new sets of roots. I’ve been wondering if we’ve over harvested it for the past couple of years because some of our plants didn’t come back this year. Any thoughts on why we’d loose asparagus plants?

IMG_1517These are kaleidoscope mix and chocolate beauty peppers. They’re on the outside of the wooden fence so I’m hoping that this metal fence is enough to keep the creatures away.

IMG_1518The onions need to be planted, like… now…

IMG_1520I grew coleus from seed this year and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’d like to increase the number of flower/annual seedlings that I grow myself. It’s very easy and saves lots of money. Sometimes I winter coleus over in pots inside too.

IMG_1522Speaking of seeds, I still have a lot to go in.  Carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, multiple flowers… I need to get out there and get these in the ground!

IMG_1523And finally, these ladies arrived on Mother’s Day.

We have two new White Leghorns, two Buck-eyes (the first chicken breed developed by a woman), two Easter Eggers and a Black Giant…

IMG_1498The Black Giant thinks she’s all that… lol..

What’s happening in your garden? I hope that you’ve been out there planting something.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

Our Coop Construction, 2007-Present

It’s time to get ready for those backyard chickens! I’ve encountered a few people who are thinking about building a chicken coop recently, so I thought I’d re-blog this post about our chicken coop construction process. It looks like I did the same thing last year as well. If you want more information on chicken keeping be sure to click on the Chickens category in the menu at the top of the page. Most of my posts about chickens can be found there! Michele

The Salem Garden

Good almost spring morning!

I seem to be encountering lots of people who are planning to build or buy a chicken coop these days so I thought I’d share an overview of ours as it was constructed.

We didn’t exactly plan the coop before our first batch of chicks arrived in 2007 so our pullets (young chickens) lived in our basement for several months during construction. I don’t recommend that at all. You will save yourself a huge amount of anxiety by building or buying a coop before your chicks arrive. We kind of go with the flow around here but those few months were quite difficult. Fortunately we were totally in love with our brand new chickens so we all got through it together.

Okay, here goes:
IMG_0440The garden, pre chicken, around 2006.

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The very beginning… The corner posts were placed into holes dug approximately two feet into the…

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Our Coop Construction, 2007-Present

Are you thinking about raising chickens? It’s that “brand new flock” time of year again!  I thought I’d share this post that I wrote last year about the building and design process of our coop just in case you’re doing some research. Please be sure to leave your questions in the comments section and use the search box at the bottom of the page to find more chicken raising related posts!   We’re happy to help as much as we can.      Michele

Good almost spring morning!

I seem to be encountering lots of people who are planning to build or buy a chicken coop these days so I thought I’d share an overview of ours as it was constructed.

We didn’t exactly plan the coop before our first batch of chicks arrived in 2007 so our pullets (young chickens) lived in our basement for several months during construction. I don’t recommend that at all. You will save yourself a huge amount of anxiety by building or buying a coop before your chicks arrive. We kind of go with the flow around here but those few months were quite difficult. Fortunately we were totally in love with our brand new chickens so we all got through it together.

Okay, here goes:
IMG_0440The garden, pre chicken, around 2006.

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The very beginning… The corner posts were placed into holes dug approximately two feet into the ground. Michael hit a lot of rock but says he put them in as far down as he could go. The floor is plywood, the main posts are 4×4, the floor and ceiling were constructed with 2×6 boards and the walls with 2x4s.

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The roof going on..IMG_1511

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The roof pitch echoes our house’s roofline. It doesn’t match but it coordinates nicely.

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The walls are plywood attached to the frame with roofing paper applied over it to seal. The windows were mostly salvaged with the exception of the front window that my son is standing in. I think that one came from a building supply warehouse nearby (on the clearance rack I’m sure).

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Looking at the front; long windows for lots of light, a nice wide front door for easy access and the little chicken door on the bottom right.

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Here’s the back side. That overhang provides handy shelter for things like garden tools and wheelbarrows.You just have to watch that you don’t hit your head on the corner.

IMG_1622My little girl (who turned nine last week!)… windows and doors in. No screening on the run yet but that was in process.

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Looking down at a habitable coop without siding. It took another year or two for siding to be added.

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But then it was, and primer was applied to preserve the clapboard.

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Painted and decorated, with flowers growing, of course.

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It is a pretty little coop!

DSC01461Far back view in winter. The girls get afternoon sun through that window which helps to keep them cozy in the colder months.

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Here’s the front door and porch area. The porch is great because it gives the chickens a dry place to spend time and there’s space under it so they can hide if needed. It also saves us from having to step into mud pits…

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… like this one. Unless your a blogger who wants to take a picture of the front door of the chicken coop during mud season.

But who do you know who would do that? 😉

I realize that this is kind of a quick overview of our process and there’s lots of details missing. I took these photos as we went along but never with the idea that they would someday be used on my blog. So, I apologize for the gaps but hope it gives you an idea of what our coop exterior looks like and what our construction journey entailed. I’m going to do an inside tour in the next week or so.  I think I’ll include the head chicken keeper’s direct input as I write it to insure accuracy and probably some entertainment.

Leave me questions! Michael and I will be happy to answer them!

Happy Coop Building!

Michele

It’s a Yard Party!

To keep them safe, the chicks had spent most of their time in the chicken tractor until the other day. Michael let them out in the yard for a few hours and they had a blast!

IMG_5434 The first order of business was figuring out how to get out and how to get back in

IMG_5436which is not an easy thing…

IMG_5440 Really sisters, come join us!

IMG_5444 Or maybe we need to go home..

IMG_5445 But how?

IMG_5473No worries, we’ll come your way

IMG_5454Iris to eat, how tasty!

IMG_5478 Or just good old bugs in the grass.


IMG_5487I think I’ll learn to fly in all of this open space…

IMG_5491Mr Mallard stopped by for dinner.

IMG_5497 He’s beautiful and he knows it!

Mrs Mallard flies into the scene... Mrs Mallard flew in as well.

Dear, Dear... please use caution around the young onesMr Mallard said “Be careful around those young one’s dear!”
I'm not afraid of these young whipper snappers!She’s loves him but she’s very independent. I think I heard her say “I can more than hold my own with these young whippersnappers!”

IMG_5504The chickens didn’t seem to worry too much about the ducks visiting. Maybe that’s because Mr and Mrs Mallard often say hi as they walk past the tractor.

IMG_5506 Time for dinner…

IMG_5508 He always stands guard when she eats. It’s really cute!

IMG_5510Time to go home, this yard is a little too crazy for us tonight!

IMG_5516No worries, the chicks will keep things hopping…

IMG_5517Hey sisters, I think there’s something good over here..

IMG_5518On second thought, let’s head over the fence and look for some lettuce seedlings. I hear their really tasty!

Or not, depends on your palate 🙂

The party went on until they went home at dusk.

Those young chickens love to party!

I was ready for bed at nine 😉

Michele

 

 

What’s Happening in the Garden- April 25, 2014

I’m working on a million little projects this morning but  I’m well behind here in the blogosphere so before I move on I must do a quick garden update. I don’t know what it is about my blogging hobby but somehow publishing a post grounds me and propels me forward like nothing else.  I think it’s the sense of accountability, or maybe the creativity (not that I’m that creative), or maybe it’s the satisfaction in having finished something. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting and helping me to keep moving!

So, after the coldest snowiest winter ever, and the coldest early spring ever, we are finally seeing a little bit of an improvement here in Salem, Massachusetts. I’m convinced that we love our gardens more in New England than anywhere else because we work so darn hard to get through the winter and into the sunshine.

IMG_5309I’m pretty sure that the lady’s mantle would agree with me. It’s been a long, long winter!

IMG_5311Just behind the lady’s mantle a clump of iris is springing into action. It won’t be long now!

IMG_5313We have lettuce! I believe that this is Black Seeded Simpson.

IMG_5314There’s also a little bit of mesclun peeking through.

IMG_5316And those onion sets that I planted two weeks ago are settling in nicely. We had a lot of rain the day after they were planted so the rocks really came up and I had to reset some of the bulbs. It’s nice to see the greens. I think I’ll add some compost around them later today to give them an extra boost.

IMG_5318The little peek of rhubarb has filled out nicely. We have several of these throughout the garden.

IMG_5320The asparagus patch looks empty and untended. I need to get Michael to take that little fence away so I can get in and out of there without incident. When you get a little older there are “incidents” when hopping over fences like this one. It was put up to keep our toddlers out and I think I can safely say that we’re well past the toddler stage now.

IMG_5321We do have teenagers though… I wonder if these will grow so I can outfit the younger kids with very expensive flip flops.

IMG_5322How about that, there is asparagus popping up on the slightly warmer other side of the garden.

IMG_5325This does my heart good…

IMG_5328This area needs some work. If I remember correctly I was choosing between Nutcracker rehearsals, soccer games and garden cleanup last fall.

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The baby girls say hi! IMG_5336Here’s a peek at the beginning of our newest project. We took out two juniper trees last fall and are planning to create a nice herb garden in this spot. I’m going to start by sifting out rocks and adding a lot of compost. I have plants that are ready to relocate and I may add a few new varieties. There’s a concrete “patio” and shingle sided wall to the left that I’m hoping to fill with containers.  I have lots of ideas and my handy dandy pinterest board is in full swing. Click on the words pinterest board to check it out.

In other news, I’m starting seeds, repotting houseplants and planting spinach later.

What’s happening in your garden?

I hope your enjoying the spring as much as I am!

Love, Michele

 

Gangly chicks

I can’t believe they’ve grown this much! Where did the time go? That cute, fluffy stage is winding down fast.  At three weeks old the chicks are looking pretty gangly. This early adolescent age is cute in it’s own way. It’s fun to see the feathers coming and get a sense of how they’ll look as adults.

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Their still in their brooder with towels and a light to stay warm. It’s kind of chilly in our playroom.

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Michael took the cardboard box out to give them more space and added a log.

We’ll put a nice perch in soon too.

IMG_5020Golden-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5021Buff Orpington…

IMG_5022Silver-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5025The back of the golden-laced again, this girl is going to be beautiful.


IMG_5027Our dark cochin..

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The other buff orpington; we need more than one to maintain good balance and we’ll have three when these two chicks grow up

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Here’s our little cuckoo maran. I’ve been trying to give her extra socialization training because this breed is known to be pretty unfriendly. Doesn’t she look thrilled to see me?

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Best friends for life!

That’s how we raise them here~

Enjoy everything!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 




The Lovely, Motherly Cochin

If your deciding on breeds of chicken to raise, another fun possibility is the cochin. Cochins originated in China in the 1800s and are now commonly found here in the United States. Their most unique features are their furry feet and legs and their round, fluffy shape. They are just beautiful girls!

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The hen on the left is a buff cochin and the one in the middle is a white cochin.  While their not widely considered to be good layers we find that ours lay medium sized eggs regularly.

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Here’s one of our current babies who will grow up to be a dark cochin. We like lots of varied colors in our flock so we’re looking forward to adding her in with the buffs, whites and banty cochin!IMG_4589

Our little white hen is a banty cochin. Banties are small chickens who usually look just like their standard (regular) sized counterparts but in a mini version. She probably weighs about two pounds, compared to the six to eight pound weights of the standards.

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She may be smaller than her sisters but she is mighty! She’s also quite a mother-to-be wannabe. She gets broody to the point that we have to take her off the nest at times. Last summer we went through a period when she pulled all of the feathers off of her belly so that she could keep the eggs warmer. They grew back over time but we had to regularly move her out to the run to break the pattern. Broodiness (a huge desire to sit on eggs to hatch them) is a common cochin characteristic and while it’s a little messy and inconvenient, it isn’t a problem as long as the chicken eats and drinks regularly.

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You just can’t go wrong with a few beautiful cochin in your flock!

We love them and you will too!

Happy Saturday!

Love, Michele